A Paper by Dr. Ueda et al. Published in Scientific Reports
A paper by Dr. Ueda et al. was published in Scientific Reports.
Mindfulness meditation, which enhances one’s health and sense of well-being, has gained attention in recent years. Mindfulness meditation is comprised of focused attention meditation (FAM), which involves sustaining selective attention moment-by-moment on a chosen perceptual object (e.g. sensations of breathing), and open monitoring meditation (OMM), which entails broadened, receptive attention to all experience without reactivity and judgment. Although the psychological mechanisms and neural bases underlying FAM overlap with those underlying attention have been extensively studied, little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying OMM.
To investigate these mechanisms, Dr. Ueda and Mr. Fujino (Graduate School of Education, Kyoto University), and their research colleagues used fMRI to examine striatal functional connectivity in experienced meditators during meditation.
Both FAM and OMM reduced functional connectivity between the striatum and the posterior cingulate cortex, which is a core hub region of the default mode network (DMN). Further, OMM reduced functional connectivity of the ventral striatum to both the visual cortex (which is related to intentional focused attention in the attentional network) and the retrosplenial cortex (which is related to memory functioning in the DMN). In contrast, FAM increased functional connectivity in these regions. These findings suggest that OMM reduces intentional focused attention and increases detachment from autobiographical memory. This detachment may play an important role in non-judgmental and non-reactive attitudes during OMM. These findings provide new insights into the mechanisms underlying the contribution of OMM to the subjective senses of well-being and happiness.
The study was conducted using the MRI scanner and related facilities of the Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University.
Masahiro Fujino, Yoshiyuki Ueda, Hiroaki Mizuhara, Jun Saiki, & Michio Nomura
Open monitoring meditation reduces the involvement of brain regions related to memory function
Scientific Reports DOI 10.1038/s41598-018-28274-4.